Why Does My French Bulldog Choke On Food

Why Does My French Bulldog Choke On Food?

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

There have been many instances in which French Bulldog owners have witnessed their pets choking while eating. This problem is caused by the excessive amount of tissue crammed into the nose and throat of Frenchies. For some of these dogs, breathing is a struggle, and imagine trying to force some food down the throat while fighting for air. Additionally, French Bulldogs tend to be overweight, which exacerbates their breathing problems.
Last but not least, any short-nosed dog has problems swallowing, which can result in food getting into its airways and lungs, causing pneumonia.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why Does My French Bulldog Choke On Food?“.

Frenchies are adorable are not they? They are funny and playful have a friendly personality and are simply adorable! This is why the French Bulldog has become so popular. This cute flat face is exactly what makes Frenchies prone to respiratory issues and choking which makes their owners freak out. Learn what you need to know about French Bulldogs and their food problems and most importantly how to handle them.

Why Does My French Bulldog Choke On Food

Why do French Bulldogs have difficulty breathing?

A French Bulldogs comic face is the result of selective breeding which encouraged the appearance of a breed with very short nuzzles. The dogs head shrank and its face became flatter but its anatomical structures inside the skull remained pretty much the same. It is because these tissues do not have enough space in your beloved Frenchies skull that he will have breathing problems. Listed below are some of the most common problems encountered with Frenchies.

  • Stenotic nares – the nostrils of the dog are abnormally narrow and limit airflow 
  • Soft palate elongated – the back roof of the mouth is too long and blocks the airway
  • Hyperplastic trachea – the windpipe is restricted
  • Sacs along the voice box are blocking the trachea
  • Enlarged protruding tonsils

Brachycephalic syndrome is characterized by all of these symptoms. French Bulldogs do not necessarily present all the above problems so if your pet has breathing difficulties you should consult a veterinarian. 

Why might this make them choke on their food?

There have been many instances in which French Bulldog owners have witnessed their pets choking while eating. This problem is caused by the excessive amount of tissue crammed into the nose and throat of Frenchies. For some of these dogs breathing is a struggle and imagine trying to force some food down the throat while fighting for air. Additionally French Bulldogs tend to be overweight which exacerbates their breathing problems.

Last but not least any short-nosed dog has problems swallowing which can result in food getting into its airways and lungs causing pneumonia.

Some gagging is to be expected with Frenchies but excessive gagging and choking on food indicate distress and require immediate medical attention.

How can you help a dog that is choking on food?

Taking your dog to the vet is a good idea but it would not help when the dog is actually choking right before your eyes. If you know what to do you can save your pets life. In essence you need to act in the same way as when you see a child or adult choke on food. 

A dogs mouth should be examined first. Take out his tongue and try to extract the food piece that is causing the obstruction.

It is necessary to perform the Heimlich maneuver if this is not possible:

  • Put your arms around your dogs body and stand behind him
  • You should make a fist with your right hand and push firmly forward just behind your rib cage
  • Continue this thrusting motion until the foreign object is dislodged from the dogs airways and he is breathing normally
  • Put one hand behind the dogs back for support and the other hand on the abdomen to support him while you move forward and up to dislodge the object stuck in his throat

How can you help a Frenchie to eat slower?

French Bulldogs can choke if they eat too fast which interferes with their breathing. Make sure he eats slowly so he does not choke. There is no point in trying to reason with your pet so you should make it challenging for him to get to the food. Here are a few tips on how to do that:

  • Utilize a slow feeder bowl – This kind of bowl has a raised pattern on its interior that divides the food into smaller portions. As the dog has to work his way around the bowl he is prevented from gulping down the food.
  • Using a muffin tin divide the dogs food into several cups and place them in the tin. As your Frenchie moves from cup to cup he will be forced to pause which will slow down his eating spree.
  • Spread the dogs food around on a piece of cooking paper in a thin layer so there is nothing to gulp on. The pet will be forced to lick most of his food preventing choking
  • An elevated bowl is particularly recommended for Frenchies as it reduces neck and back tension. The dog will be less likely to choke on food if he maintains a good posture during feeding
  • The automatic feeder might be an investment but the comfort of your adorable dog is worth it. An automatic feeder allows you to set portion sizes and feeding schedules ensuring that your pet is fed regularly and consumes food slowly
  • Feed by hand – This would not cost you anything but will allow you to spend more time with your Frenchie making every meal a memorable one 

What is acid reflux and why do French Bulldogs get it?

Acid reflux occurs when acid and enzymes from the stomach and intestines travel up into the esophagus a condition called gastroesophageal reflux. In addition to discomforting the dog these acids can also irritate and inflame the esophagus which is potentially dangerous. As acids accumulate in the esophagus ulcers narrowing thinning and necrosis occurs. Below are the main symptoms of acid reflux in dogs:

  • The act of gurgling burping or gagging
  • Vomiting after meals even in small quantities
  • Poor breath
  • Anorexia and weight loss
  • During or after meals whining or even howling
  • Lethargic after eating
  • Excessive salivation or fever

Due to their immature esophageal sphincters puppies are more at risk of developing acid reflux.

What could be causing your French Bulldog to throw up undigested food?

The Frenchies distinctive head shape makes this breed prone to respiratory problems as well as digestion issues. In addition to gagging and choking many French Bulldogs occasionally vomit up undigested food. Oftentimes you are dealing with regurgitation instead of vomiting. 

The dog throws up after eating food that has made its way to the stomach not necessarily as a result of the brachycephalic syndrome. The most common cause of vomiting in Frenchies especially puppies is allergies. The stomach of these dogs is very delicate and they are prone to food allergies.

Dogs that regurgitate are usually suffering from breathing problems or acid reflux. Regurgitation occurs when the dog throws up food that never made it to its stomach. Due to spasms along the trachea the dog ends up throwing up undigested food while struggling to breathe.

How can you make Frenchie’s food safer to eat?

It should come as no surprise that Frenchies require special food as they are very special dogs. The good news is that most dog foods are not safe for your French Bulldog but you can safely feed them a variety of human foods. With beef chicken turkey or salmon you can share your meal with your Frenchie without worrying about his health. It is also safe for your dog to eat wheat and grains since they have a high fiber content. As well rice is very good for Frenchies because it helps them with their digestive issues.

Diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables for your French Bulldog. You can feed your pooch apples bananas oranges mangoes cucumbers carrots sweet potatoes or even broccoli.

Watch out for carbs in your dogs diet because these dogs are prone to obesity. 

Avocado potatoes grapes tomatoes chocolate bones of any kind and bread are foods that should be avoided by your French Bulldog. Limit salty foods to keep your dog healthy. Be sure to set aside your furry friends portion before seasoning your meal if you wish to share with him. 

If you buy commercial dog food make sure the labels are clearly labeled and avoid products that contain preservatives cheap fillers or excessive protein content. You should choose foods that contain whole meat plant-based proteins and Omega-3 fats.

Unfortunately the flat face that made Frenchies so popular is causing them so many health problems but there are ways you can help your dog. You should offer your dog small meals and use special bowls so they can eat slowly thus reducing choking risks. Your veterinarian may recommend corrective surgery if your dog suffers from severe choking issues.

You should always keep in mind that French Bulldogs are prone to acid reflux and food allergies so they require a special diet even if they do not have major feeding issues. Rather than feeding them commercial food homemade foods are safer. Obviously not everything you eat is safe for your dog but there are a lot of options and you can have a lot of fun together at mealtime.

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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